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texassourdough 06-29-2011 08:50 AM

Pane Genzano
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While in Italy my wife and I visited the village of Genzano specifically to get a loaf of Pane Genzano. This is a bread I make from time to time following the recipe in Daniel Leader's book "Local Breads". It is a very unique loaf - about 8 pounds, very wet (about 74% hydration), is coated with bran, and is baked very dark in a WFO. This is a very ancient style loaf, intended to last for at least a week, and is the only bread in Italy to have an IGP (Indicazione Geografica Pretetto) certification. Leader's loaves are a bit smaller - only around three pounds. I wore my Forno Bravo T-shirt! Photos follow - including a photo of a light dinner that shows the crumb. Enjoy!

KEmerson 12-05-2011 06:51 PM

Re: Pane Genzano
I too have been doing Leader's Genzano. It is so far my most successful bread and always a huge delight to eat. I make mine about 675 gr. and when I do about 10 boules and about a dozen rolls (100 gr.) and load it all into the oven - provided I did a good job saturating the oven - they take me about 20 minutes total. Drop dead gorgeous bread. Try having a loaf with you as you make a fresh batch of tomato sauce for a pasta dinner. Yeah, just try to keep that loaf untouched alongside that sauce. No way! This is a bread that will have you eating a loaf just for the pure unbridled hedonistic joy of it.

texassourdough 12-06-2011 06:53 AM

Re: Pane Genzano
Hi Kim!

From your comments I think you agree Pane di Genzano is one of the more amazing breads around - a bit messy due to the bran, but...amazing!

I do single loaves at about 3 1/2 pounds which almost covers my stone. Getting it in the oven is really tricky. I love the nuttiness of the bread that the bran gives it.

I have not done smaller loaves...An interesting idea.

I am getting ready to gear up for Christmas baking and am toying with making a P di G to take to a party. (Experience says people are often a bit afraid of the dark crust - until they taste it! And then they are converts!

Bake on!

KEmerson 12-06-2011 07:32 AM

Re: Pane Genzano
Hi Jay,
How would you compare your Genzano bread to what you had in Italy? Leader has worked at simulating European flours we just can't get here so I'm wondering if the two versions are favorably comparable.

I also make smaller rolls, about 100 gr. each. This is a superb bread for sandwiches and the rolls are great for things like hamburgers. I've learned that when you stay way from commercially produced foods, and keep a purist's attitude toward ingredients, the payoff is beyond measure. By that I mean, say, naturally raised animals (apologies to our vegetarian and vegan friends) giving us such wonderful meats, on a bread such as the Genzano, can be transformative, otherworldly.

It IS an amazing bread. The darkness is not burnt, as you know, and I'd wager that one taste, one whiff of that beautiful bread will immediately dispel any hesitancy your party friends might have. Wouldn't surprise me to learn you won't bring enough of it no matter how well you plan. As for the messiness, baking it outside helps. Any fly away bran - and there's a bit of it - goes back to nature. Damn, Jay! I think I'll just have to get off this computer and go get a slice...or three. Just to keep from drooling on the keyboard. Thanks.

texassourdough 12-06-2011 01:03 PM

Re: Pane Genzano
One of the more humorous aspects of visiting Genzano and buying a loaf is that it was ridiculously expensive! (Bread was about $4 but the driver was $$$) But I REALLY wanted to see how my bread compared. And I went to Sergio's forno which is the one Leader used as a basis for the Pane di Genzano in Local Breads.

To be candid, I thought my bread compared very favorably. Similar DARK brown, almost black color, big crumb (mine is probably a bit more open), messy (shedding bran, but he knocked more off so I do too now), etc. I typically use KA Bread Flour for Genzano and I think the bran flavor overrides any detectable difference in the flour (at least when not side by side). I was very pleased with the outcome. If you follow Leader's recipe and bake it to dark mahogany it should be very similar to Sergio's bread.

Now...that said, there are 11 bakeries in Genzano that make PdiG and each has his own passionate following. When we went to lunch I tried to ask the Restaurant owner about his bread and who made it and my limited Italian was a problem. Finally I simply pointed to the bread on the table and said, "Pane Casareccio di Genzano, No?" and he said "Si, es Pane di Genzano." I KNEW it wasn't Sergio's but in desparation I said, "Es Pane de Sergio?" and he went ballistic, "Oh, No! No! No! No! Es Impossible, Sergio! No! No! Must be Antica!" (at least that is the spelling I interpreted!) It was pretty much the reaction I had expected!

Now, the big news... the bread at the restaurant was quite different. A much lighter bake. Poking my head in several bakeries revealed that the finish of the breads is rather variable. My preference is clearly Sergio's for its ultimate simplicity and amazing flavour.

I have not baked Genzano in my WFO. Always indoors. I love the massive pillowy loaf as it goes in the oven. It seems so light and fragile that it MUST ooze to a pancake soars with awesome oven spring to a towering loaf - taller than Sergio's by far! I have toyed with baking it outdoors but have never done so.Will have to try it this spring!

And I am jealous you have Genzano in your pantry!

Green with envy!

KEmerson 12-06-2011 06:44 PM

Re: Pane Genzano
Jay, get out there and bake this in the WFO!! Why wait till spring if you're in Texas? I'm in NY and plan to bake through the winter. (That said, it's December and still in the high 50's to low 60's lately. No complaints on this end!)

I agree that the dough seems so fragile before I put it in the oven. Each time I remove a proofed boule from the basket thing I'm sure it's going to fail. They feel so light and delicate. Then, after a few minutes have passed and I can take a look inside, I'm stunned at the oven spring these get. And when baked and sliced into, aah, the light and airy cells, the aromas... this bread could inspire poetry.

You know as well as any of us the difference our WFOs make in baking anything. You probably already anticipate that difference.

I'm sorry. I can't discuss this bread anymore. Each time we mention it I feel the urge to get another slice just to have it. Hunger be damned.

Which other breads from Local Breads have you tried? Any disappointments? Have you tried others in your WFO? The 42" WFO allows me to do so many loaves and I freeze them to use as needed. Which seems to make sense from an efficiency standpoint but I enjoy the entire experience of building the fire, making the dough, smelling the bake, looking at the successes. When I make so much it just means I'm not out there as often. I'd love to do breads for friends just so I can bake more frequently.

Let us know how you do when you do this one in your WFO.

texassourdough 12-07-2011 06:41 AM

Re: Pane Genzano
Hi Kim!

My oven is about 100 feet from my house and about 15 feet below with rustic ledge rock steps so part of my disincentive of WFO baking is the inconvenience of getting 15 pounds or so of dough down to the oven - along with all the set up and oven management trips.

I find Local Breads more inspirational and insightful than a book I bake from. Mostly I do my own sourdough boules which are exceptionally reliable and flavorful. My other more common loaves are the Genzano, Tartine, Pane Pugliesi (not SD), Eric Kayser's Pain au Cereales (not SD), baguettes (both SD and not), and ryes, especially Volkornbrot. I don't experiment a lot and when I do it is more likely to be a composite recipe from multiple sources adapted to my habits. I do variations, especially of my own SD and Tartine, using walnuts, olives, rosemary, etc. If I am doing a new bread I usually look at Local Breads (Leader), Bread (Hamelman), the appropriate Reinhart book, Professional Bread and Pastry (Suas/SFBI), Italian Baker (Fields), decide on a flour and hydration, decide whether to use my techniques or something else for mixing/proofing, and do it! I also do a lot of what I term "garbage can breads" making small batches from leftover starter that would otherwise be tossed.

I am about to begin baking for Christmas and some of the breads I plan to make include my boules, baguettes, Panmarino, Pane di Altimura (from Leader), Pan d'Oro (from Fields/Suas). I probably won't do a Genzano until January! (But???)

Bake on!

PS: I REALLY like the flour presoak Robertson promotes in Tartine. I think it really helps create a finished dough faster and with less handling as I described in the thread on pizza dough tearing.

KEmerson 12-08-2011 03:37 AM

Re: Pane Genzano
So far the only book I've used is Leader's. I like how he breaks down the ingredients into weights and %'s. I have no need for cups and tablespoons as I weigh everything (metric scale). So when I go shopping for a new book that's often what I look for first, that, and whether the book is also loaded with things I have no intention of baking in my WFO. You mention quite a few books, some I recognize by title or author but have not actually looked at. Which of the ones you mention do you like most? Which do you get the most mileage from? From time to time I've read both positive and negative about a few of them but I know much of the criticisms could just be subjective and not necessarily reflecting what I might like or not. I do need another book or two. Even though I like Local Breads I don't plan on making everything in it. (I also know there are a number of typos in it. I have already emailed them and received a reply with the corrections, though I found others they did not address.) Suggestions?

As an aside slightly off topic, the other day I gave a loaf of the Genzano to a young college friend. Three days later I saw him and his housemate again and they damn near genuflected to me. Their eyes widened and I think I saw traces of remnant drool on their chins as they rhapsodised about the experience. They said the bread lasted just about 24 hours. Apparently I now have a few new friends in their other housemates, who have never met me but have expressed a desire to have dinner with me one day. It seems I'm a bread celebrity in one small circle on the Vassar campus. Just further illustrates the pure power of food in general, and bread in particular.

texassourdough 12-08-2011 04:05 AM

Re: Pane Genzano
We are on the same page in so many ways! I almost run from books without BP but I write BPs in books that have recipes I want to use... so???

I really like Leader's book, the typos and errors are a bit much. He has lots of great breads and the stories are great.

Since you like Leader and Genzano, Tartine might be a really good book for you. It is basically about one bread and some variations. But the bread is considered to be one of the best in the world. (If you find yourself in SF going to Tartine is a MUST. And ordering a half loaf and picking it up at 5 with the mob!) While the SF tang of his bread is not likely to be realized for long outside SF, his story and logic of how to make the bread is brilliant. Unlike my Genazno which is very much like Sergio, my Tartine is not like Chad's. But he has influenced my approach and increased my use of presoak and S&Fs. Great texture! And really versatile bread.

The book I go to for recipes tends to be Bread by Hamelman. It has some errors too but all recipes are given large batches, moderate batches and home batches and are in weight and BP. A very professional book. Just the facts with no personal stories. Very efficient. Lots of great recipes.

One of those two or both. Tartine is a journey, Bread is a reference book!

KEmerson 12-08-2011 09:07 AM

Re: Pane Genzano
Thanks, Jay. I have read about Chad and I think I saw a video? Or maybe it was just pictures. He's on the cover of Alan Scott and Daniel Wing's Bread Builders book and is, of course, featured inside. I've been curious about him for some time. As for Hamelman, I used to live in Brattleboro, VT. where he had his bakery and shop (before what I hear was a bitter and nasty divorce, and before his fame) so I've had his breads and other products first hand. Both these books have been in my peripherals and on my radar for a while but I've never really delved into them. Will do so soon now. Thanks. Not to swell your head or anything but I've always been given good advice or at least ample food for thought from you. So these amount to strong endorsements as far as I'm concerned. Maybe the fat man in the red suit who hangs out with reindeer will take a shining to me this year. I swear I've been a good boy all year.
Thanks, Jay,

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